The Hermetic Organ
Featuring John Zorn, pipe organ
The saxophonist John Zorn is “the most prolific and polarizing figure in New York’s downtown scene” and “a major American composer whose work crosses just about every stylistic boundary imaginable” (The New York Times). In four decades, Zorn has released dozens of albums on his own label, Tzadik; their contents are famously varied, ranging from riotous jazz interpretations of Ennio Morricone and hardcore punk versions of Ornette Coleman to orchestral and choral music. As the uncontested icon of the American avant-garde, Zorn’s only conventions are collaboration, curiosity, and an unquenchable conviction that the story of music is still unfolding. An all-star cast performs eight different programs of his work at Big Ears.
THE HERMETIC ORGAN
In 2011, Zorn returned to his first instrument—and shocked those who saw him only as the great defiler of sacred conventions—when he embarked on a series of late-night solo organ concerts in big, resonant churches in New York, in Philadelphia, in Belgium and France. Released the next year, The Hermetic Organ features an unbroken live improvisation on the pipe organ in St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University; Lou Reed, who was present, is said to have called it a “culmination and conquest.” The long adventure continues on a 32-foot pipe organ at St. John’s Cathedral in Knoxville.